The Northern Kentucky University Student Government Association got down to business Sept. 9, working to increase productivity and create legislation that will impact the everyday student. Committee meetings lasted longer than the meeting itself as ideas about controversial topics including the campus smoking policy and improving the university’s recreational facilities were passed around and shared with SGA executives.
The first resolution of the semester is expected to be introduced at the next meeting. While the resolution is new, the topic is one that the SGA worked on last year, and that has been debated substantially by this year’s senators: improving the Campus Recreation Center.
University Improvements Chair Michelle Forlenza is expected to meet with other officials to work on drafting the proposed resolution, which she said will likely call for a feasibility study to be undertaken to determine the student cost of renovating the center versus replacing it.
Specifically, Forlenza told her committee she was interested in learning how much student tuition would need to increase for both ideas.
More legislation is expected to come before the SGA after a push at this week’s meeting by SGA President Kevin Golden and Vice President Danielle Hawks to get the committees on track and more active. Each made their rounds to all the committee meetings to promote their efforts and encourage them to do more.
“We haven’t seen any legislation yet,” Hawks said to the University Improvements Committee. “We want to make sure everyone is on the right track. We want to go around the circle and hear what’s going on.”
University Improvements’ committee members are also planning a campus safety walk to assess problem areas, and other members are looking at ways to improve traffic flow during peak times. The area in front of Norse Commons sees a lot of pedestrian traffic going across Kenton Drive and needs improving.
The time has now come for the freshmen senators to work on more than one project. Hawks recommended all five to be appointed to various committees and the Student Senate approved unanimously. Daniel Morales was appointed to the Finance Committee, Michael Curtis and Griffin Frank were appointed to the Student Rights Committee, and John Jose and Erik Pederson were appointed to the University Improvements Committee.
Several of the new freshmen senators dove into their duties asking questions and taking on responsibilities with the committee work. Frank and Jose are looking at taking charge of addressing potential changes to the campus smoking policy and enforcement.
Paul Bell, chair of the committee, said he would like to solicit feedback from the campus community about what they want the smoking policy to address. Ideas went around the committee including online polls, setting up a table and placing a whiteboard in the Student Union.
The issue is certainly not one that even found a consensus in the room. One senator, Mikey Adkins, asked if it was even worth the SGA’s time to develop an opinion.
“I’m wondering the point of our efforts,” he shared with the committee. “The entire country is going smoke-free.”
The University of Kentucky has been smoke-free since last year, and the University of Louisville will soon follow suit. University President James Votruba told the SGA he expects to have to address the issue soon at NKU. Golden, who is also a member of the university’s Board of Regents, echoed that sentiment to the committee and said he expected it to come up in the near future.
Students with an interest in changing the current smoking policy can contact the SGA members directly to voice their opinions, including addressing the entire body during the open session at the beginning of each meeting. Additionally, students are being encouraged to voice their opinions on all matters by becoming a senator. Applications are being taken for the vacant senate positions through Oct. 1.
Assistant to the Dean of Students Steve Meier announced that “only two students have put in their applications.”
“It would be nice to have some choices,” Meier said. “Make the decision a little bit tougher; let’s make it competitive.”
The Students Rights Committee is also examining the SGA Constitution and Bylaws looking at ways they can improve or change, including rectifying time discrepancies between the documents such as when the budget must be presented to the SGA for approval each semester. The constitution requires it by the fourth meeting, however the bylaws state the second. This year, Finance Committee Chair Chad Howe introduced the budget at the fourth meeting, and Golden mentioned to the committee that was because the Constitution trumps the bylaws.
Another appointment was made that did not require confirmation by the senate. Golden announced that Finance Committee Chair Chad Howe will be the only student to serve on the university’s Tuition and Fees Appeals Committee, which determines the outcome of student disputes.
For the first time this semester, an outreach liaison for the Residential Housing Association attended the meeting and asked SGA for help hosting the annual haunted house in Callahan Hall. The Chase College of Law Student Bar Association is also planning to have someone attend a meeting after next week’s elections and the International Student Union is also appointing someone for the next meeting. NKU Norse Athletics have not yet gotten back to the SGA on which representative will be available.
Story by Jesse Call